See the heat | Michael Ángel Díaz Camacho

Aalto, Rautatalo 1953-55

That the architecture is not possible without the light it turns out so evident as inaccurate. Or at least incomplete. Really, so often it has been said to us already, the light can be the raw material of the architecture, his substance. Certain. It does not do so much the cycle of the life one was organizing concerning the solar cycle and the architecture was calling for the semidarkness sheltered by starry nights1. The electricity would stimulate the magic capacity of the men for the manufacture of the light, the luminous artifice that would allow the modification of ancient bosses of conduct. Nevertheless, one is in the habit of obviating often a not less fundamental component for the fact of living, a present spectrum in the bonfire and the light, an energy as immaterial as fervent servidora of the light: the heat.

In few occasions there has been related the radiance of a light or an area to his thermal revelation, an invisible and almost residual halo for the great architecture. In the “Iron House” 2 Alvar Aalto cenitalmente proposes an elegant central illuminated porch across a series of 40 lucernarios organized in reticle of 5 for 8. It is a question basically of the type used in Viipuri but evolved thanks to the incorporation of an exterior blanket of artificial light, a sum of individual stars placed on the circular glass that finishes off each of the cylindrical hollows. The development is not minor: on the one hand the porch is equally illuminated during the day and the night; for other one, the lamps melt the copious winters snowfalls and enable the use of the lucernario at any time of the year in Helsinki.

To the margin of the deliberate exercise of perceptive alteration in the night-day3, it interests here the ingenious thermal contribution of the lights, making visible a process that often slips by inside the configuration of the space. The capacity of the lamps to melt the snow not only turns out to be an evidently practical fact: his disappearance visibiliza a process of heat liberation often secret in turbulences and air movements in the interior space. The heat exercises a powerful capacity of transformation on the fluids that wrap and affect us. The heat incubates us and returns to us to prenatal free situations of all entropy; Dennis Oppenheim was representing well this process across his installation “Aging” 4. Also though from another perspective, architects like Philippe Rahm have pledged in reconciling the nature corpuscular of the light with his ascending thermodynamic one, cartografiando the variations of temperature or relative dampness with the precision of the scientist who operates from the monitoring of a habitat. What have they jointly Aalto, Oppenheim and Rahm? Well, all of them have worked with the light as instrument for visibilizar the heat.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. Doctor Architect

Madrid. april 2014


1 The attention calls the design of lamps of oil and supports for candles in the Wright’s first works in Oak Park at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the XXth.

2 Commercial building and of Offices “Rautatalo”, Helsinki, I compete 1952, construction 1953-55. Nicknamed “Iron House”due to the name of his proprietary “The Association of Iron Dealers”.

3 That we will treat in another occasion.

4 The installation “Aging” (1974) exposed in the Building Sabatini of the National Museum Center of Art He reigns Sofia inside the project “DENNIS OPPENHEIM. Workshop of investigation on funds of the MNCARS”, Madrid on April 19 to November 3, 2005. A series of figures of wax raised and aligned before identical separated areas of infrared light a variable distance in crescendo; the light was allowing to observe the figures while the heat was fusing and made them twist in a slow change of position. Some of them were sitting down, others were falling down of knees before falling down and to be eliminated shaping a formless and disfigured mass. The interest of the work resides in making visible a variable that rarely can be observed in the sculpture: the heat.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Doctor en Arquitectura, Decano de la Facultad de Tecnología y Ciencia UCJC. Presidente de la Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura,  perteneciente al Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España. Director de MADC Arquitectos, estudio profesional con premios en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en la actualidad desarrolla proyectos en España y Noruega. Escritor y crítico de arquitectura, es autor de los libros “Párrafos de Arquitectura. Core(oh)grafías” (2016) y “Arquitectura y Cambio Climático” (2018).

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